Bettercup at Dark Mofo
Will you walk into my parlour?
Two days in Hobart for Dark Mofo isn’t enough, But if it’s all you’ve got, take it anyway. The bloated programme means you’ll almost scratch the surface of what Dark Mofo is about, and likely regret what you’ve missed for weeks, but it’s still worth it.
This is the most immersive festival I’ve experienced, swallowing Hobart whole for twelve days. Everything is mofo, from the airport to your hotel to every council building.
The unholy trinity of the two Dark Mofo weekends is the Winter Feast, Dark Park and the Night Mass.
The Winter Feast starts at 4pm and is full of the best food and drink Tasmania has to offer in the stunningly decorated Princes Wharf 1. Fires will keep you warm(ish) outside and cook your food. Eat and drink here every chance you get, the selection of food and drinks is by far the best going around (Save Hobart's incredible restaurant scene for next time) Start at the Winter Feast at 4. Absolutely skip lunch. Return at 9pm for second dinner.
Dark Park is free and takes over the sprawling Macquarie Point. If you don’t visit MONA on your trip, make sure you see Dark Park. Warehouses with exhibitions are scattered around the park; an incredible laser show by Matthew Schreiber, a light display of the lunar phases, and a Balinese ogoh-ogoh effigy (this year a giant spider) into which you could send your deepest fear, written on a piece of paper, to be burned on the final night of the festival.
The Night Mass is Dark Mofo at its nocturnal best. Streets and laneways provide access to venues with art, music, and performances. It feels like everything has been so curated to perfection it's intentional that the drag queens only know about half the words to the songs they’re performing.
Also, the queues. There are so many queues, but even the queues aren’t queues. there's a relaxed feel, drinks in hands, no irritation, just anticipation. And a lot of the time if you’re a Mofo newbie, you really have no idea what’s at the end of any of these queues. Is it a pot of gold? Usually, even if it looks like something extremely dull. You should probably join any queue you see. Here are a few examples; on first entry to the Night Mass, go to the left and up the scaffold ramp, and you’ll see a huge queue that looks like it goes to a very small room, not even a bar, There are all of three people in the room. Art wankers, you think. But all those people waiting should arouse your suspicion. Turns out that room with three people is just a foyer, a smokescreen, and leads you into a huge, three storey party with various rooms, a Hendricks gin bar, three laser light rooms and an artful shrine to Laura from Twin Peaks. The next queue, in the Odeon theatre for behind what looks like a cushioned door. Official looking people wandering down the still queue, asking people if they know what they’re lining up for. A whisper tells me it’s a coat check line. Upon later investigation on instagram (lesson learned: check brand instagram pages for clues to solve queue mysteries) it’s a strange padded cell room with jilting music and costumed performers. Of course it is.
Tasmania is a fantastic place to attend festivals for the sustainably minded. It’s so much more of a part of the culture there than it is in the rest of Australia, the City of Hobart aims to have zero waste to landfill by 2030. The compostable cups, can (and do, as far as I know) go to Dulverton, Tasmania’s composting facility, so even though they’re single use, at least it’s a closed loop. Dark Mofo used bettercup stemless cups at the Winter Feast and Dark Park, for which they charged a $5 deposit that was refundable upon cup return. Around half of those who got one chose to take it home for reuse.
This is a festival that’s meant to be seen and heard, not written about. While it’s as photogenic as they come, the photos, videos and reviews can’t do it justice.